How a Hacker Made Diana Nyad the Best Marathon Swimmer of the 1970s

Last year, a vandal damaged thousands of Openwaterpedia pages to divert attention away from the sabotage of 15 specific entries. Once the smoke cleared, Diana Nyad could reasonably claim to be one of the best marathon swimmers of the 1970s.

I became, in the 1970s, the best ocean swimmer in the world. I held every major record on planet earth, out in the open sea.
—Diana Nyad, 7 Oct 2019

While compiling a list of the real best ocean swimmers of the decade, I headed over to Openwaterpedia — “the Wikipedia for the open water swimming world” — looking for more data about listees. I began with Lynne Cox and Tina Bischoff. Cox set English Channel records in 1972 and ’73, Bischoff in ’76. But something was off with their Openwaterpedia entries: they showed Cox and Bischoff swimming the English Channel in the sixties. As a matter of fact, their entries showed neither of them completing a single swim in the 1970s.
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Treasures From the ISHOF Archives and Beyond

Diana Nyad’s fraud flourishes in part because of the inaccessibility of marathon swimming data. Information about her five years on the pro swimming tour has been particularly hard to find. To try to remedy that, last summer I began working with Malaika Desrameaux, a freelance researcher from South Florida.  Malaika combed through the archives of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, finding more and better material than I could have ever imagined. It was she who unearthed the World Professional Marathon Swimming (WPMSF) bulletins that made it possible to gather much of Nyad’s race information.
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